“Communication-the human connection-is the key to personal and career success.” — Paul J. Meyer Click to tweet
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you feel like they are speaking a different language? In today’s leadership training session, I share the secret ingredient to effective communication which will help you to communicate better in those hard-to-communicate situations.
Today, we are wrapping up our series on Effective Communication. In our first session, we discussed how to minimize the frustration caused by miscommunication. In the second session, I shared how to give effective praise and encouragement. Last session, we talked about how to give feedback or constructive criticism that produces real change and influences others.
As we wrap up our conversation on communication, we are going to discuss the “mortar” that holds communication together and truly makes it effective. And that is customizing our communication.
Our Communication Style
Before we can customize our conversation, we need to know what our natural communication style is. A simple google search can show you all the different types of communication styles. But for our purposes, I want you to think about where you fall on the pendulum in these communication areas:
- General Communication: Assertive vs. Passive
- Conflict, Feedback, or Criticism: Confrontational vs. Peace-Making
- Sharing: Open vs. Closed
- Words: Robust vs. Concise
Knowing which side of these categories you lean toward will help you know your communication style.
Once you know your communication style, you can now customize it to the person you are communicating with. Why is customization important?
We cognitively understand that people are different, but we don’t often appreciate the significance of those differences. The differences are like the Grand Canyon, not a small ditch. Steven Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is my second favorite leadership book. In this book, he says, “Our tendency is to project out of our own autobiographies what we think other people want or need”. What he means is that we communicate, give praise, give feedback, or give advice based upon our own lens that is made of our past experiences and natural communication style. The problem is that the other person is wearing a different colored lens or “hearing aid” that us. Many times, what we think we are communicating is actually being translated into something else by their past experiences and natural communication style. In order to be effective in our communication, we must learn their style and their story, then we can customize our communication to fit their context. That is what great communicators and leaders do.
- I want you to think through those four areas of communication above and come up with your communication style.
- Pick a person that you want to communication more effectively with. It could be your spouse, your child, or a co-worker. Learn that person’s communication style and begin customizing your communication to speak their language.